Using Worship to Reach People without Selling Your Soul, Part 1
On which side of the aisle do you find yourself? Side A informs us that church gatherings are for seekers and church-outsiders; so, our content must be accessible to help them understand. Side B insists that church gatherings are for church people; thus, our content must be rich to help them grow. Side A folks are looking across the aisle and thinking, “Those people don’t care at all about reaching people with the gospel.” While Side B-er’s are dead certain the A-er’s are selling their souls to an entertainment culture so they can build big (but surely shallow) churches.
Lost in all the commotion is…God, who–as it turns out–seems to care deeply about both the souls of people enslaved by sin and the songs of those set free by His Son. So how, indeed, do we go about leveraging our worship gatherings to reach people without selling our souls?
I realize one blog post (or, in this case 2…be sure to visit Part 2 of this discussion) could never put the period on such a discussion. But I think we could gain a lot more clarity by redefining a couple of key words that have become muddled in recent years.
Word #1: Quality
Somehow we’ve come to believe content determines the quality of our worship. What songs do we choose, how much scripture or prayer do we incorporate, how well is the music performed, how eloquent are those speaking? Actually, the quality of our worship depends on the people who are supposed to be doing the worshipping. Content only matters insofar as it serves to engage or disengage the people. Our confusion over this word has probably stemmed from the fact that we can control content much easier than people. To say that the quality of our worship depends on the people renders our jobs much more difficult!
The quality of our gatherings is directly hindered by believers who: never pray on their own…view church as a source of entertainment…spend Sundays critiquing rather than participating…love tradition (or innovation, for that matter) more than the truth…are too busy to unclutter their minds for worship…are holding onto bitterness, resentments, un-forgiveness, or un-confessed sin. And what can we do about that?
- We can make certain we’re not personally in this group!
- We can strive to more effectively direct their attention in the Right Direction.
- We can use familiar songs to get them participating.
- We can teach, challenge, and personally influence.
- We can pray for our church…that God would draw each member to a purer and more truthful heart for worship.
I definitely owe John Dickson for challenging my old concept of worship quality. His chapter on worship in The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission is certainly worth reading, as is the whole book!
Do you agree with this definition of Quality? How do you strive to achieve it?
Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”